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Minnesota is rich in blogs, and rich in alternative media such as The Uptake and Daily Planet.  Is another blog really needed?  Good question!   My main reason for setting it up is to have a place to archive and link to various emails and posts I’ve sent about Minnesota environmental issues. Continue Reading →

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Renuking Minnesota?

monti1[1]Above: The Monticello reactor.  Note the tall stack used to vent cancer-causing radioactive gases.

(Please forgive the personal notes in this post.  So often we debate the technical merits of nuke power, without sufficiently considering the human side, the human impacts, of the decisions getting made.)

I’ve had more of a relationship with the nuclear industry than seems ideal.  In Delaware, I can look out a window and see the domes of three reactors.  In 2000, I wrote in an alert:

“Parts of New Castle County (DE) are in the “ingestion zones” (= within fifty miles) of 7 nuclear reactors (Limerick 1 and 2, Peach Bottom 2 & 3, Salem 1 and 2, and Hope Creek). While the nuclear industry has always claimed that it’s radiation output is too small to cause health problems, more and more reports are linking proximity to nuclear facilities to breast cancer, leukemia, childhood cancer and birth defects, and other health problems.”

Continue Reading →

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“What are we doing to our children’s brains?”

“Environmental chemicals are wreaking havoc to last a lifetime”

In November, election results put many anti-health, anti-environmental activists into public office.  Did this happen because millions of people said to themselves “I have too much money … we need more pollution and disease … corporations and banks are being oppressed by the people …?”  I doubt it, but the effect is the same. Continue Reading →

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“U.S. taxpayers help fund oil-train boom amid safety concerns”

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/u-s-taxpayers-help-fund-oil-train-boom-amid-safety/article_cd09f5c9-9c34-505b-a5dc-3abca7d069ce.html

As a follow up to the bridge story, see this piece from Reuters.

Minnesota is one of the states that has been somewhat forthcoming about oil train traffic.

Minnesota (MNDot) is in the process of developing a 2015 state rail plan.  This is in response to a federal requirement.  I attended a meeting about it in Red Wing but went away feeling less than fully enlightened.

 

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“Railroad bridge conditions hidden from public view”

Images:  Railroad bridges along the Mississippi River

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/railroad-bridge-conditions-hidden-from-public-view/article_23e95758-fbbd-58ae-af31-619a3d4b4518.html

An important story on rail bridges was published on December 14th in the LaCross [WI] Tribune.  Byline:  Chris Hubbuch.   We understand this story was instigated by Guy Wolf, Alan Stankevitz, Irv Balto, and other leaders of Citizens Acting for Rail Safety (CARS).   CARS gave extensive briefings to Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and other public officials, and provided much of the information and many of the images used in the story. Continue Reading →

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Citizens’ Board does a good thing; Powers of Darkness push back; Action Alert

Feedlot Action Alert, and: Update: “Strange nonsense at the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (and the MPCA)”

In June I did a post critical of the MN Environmental Quality Board and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, suggesting that the environment of Minnesota isn’t being protected very well.  The email of this post had a higher readership than any other I’ve written.  One friend called it “very depressing.”  It garnered me some disapproving looks from EQB and Citizens’ Board members.  What’s happened since?

(The rest of this post relates to the MPCA and it’s Citizens’ Board.  In my view the EQB is looking like a train wreck, but that’s for another post.) Continue Reading →

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Pretty sky but the transmission lines need a lot more thought….

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“Giving Tuesday” and all that….it’s my turn for an “ask”

Today is one of those days when we get many emails asking for contributions. As Bill McKibben says ‘Today is “Giving Tuesday’, which is a charitable rebuttal to the madness and materialism of ‘Black Friday'”.

Below is just a selection from today’s inbox:

“Help us fight for justice, fairness and equality”
“For Giving Tuesday, be a polar bear’s hero”
“We need you on #GivingTuesday”
“Be a Waterfront Champion on #GivingTuesday”
“Celebrate #GivingTuesday with ADA”
“Help us fight for justice, fairness and equality”
“It’s Giving Tuesday! Please help”
“This Giving Tuesday, give critters a place to roam”
“It’s #GivingTuesday! Join the Global Movement”

Most of the orgs asking for contributions do good work and deserve contributions. But having been an environmental campaigner/consultant for a long time, I’ve formed some strong views, including these: Continue Reading →

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Passing of Jan Greenfield

Jan’s obit as it appeared in the Strib:

Janice Naomi Greenfield
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Greenfield, Janice Naomi age 72, of St Paul. A devoted and conscientious mother to two sons, a friend to a host of diverse people, an ardent environmentalist who loved to hug trees, and an accomplished folkdancer, contradancer and English Country dancer, Jan died in her home from lymphoma on Sunday morning, 26 Oct 2014. As a mother she modeled friendliness, diligence, intellectual curiosity and acceptance of others; as a spouse she coaxed her husband into becoming a better man; as a friend she was reliable, loyal and forgiving. She departed this life in the same honest and principled manner as she had lived it, and was buried in a simple ceremony on 27 October with six of her immediate family in attendance. Jan is survived by her former spouse Roger Forsberg, sons Brian (Heather) and Jev (Rachelle), brother and sister-in-law Walt and Angie Greenfield and several cousins, nephews and nieces. Memorials preferred to Tapestry Folkdance Center (Minneapolis).

Jan made great contributions to the fight against a waste burner at the Rock-Tenn plant in St. Paul, against increased burning of garbage at the “HERC” incinerator in Minneapolis, and against the proposed  “eco-crapper” wood burner on Lake Street in Minneapolis.  All these fights were successful.

Jan was also very concerned about unnecessary electromagnetic field exposures from “smart meters.”

She maintained several websites for advocacy efforts.

The range of her interests and activities was wide–I didn’t know about them all by any means.

Jan was an exceptional person.  She put her life energy into working to make our world a better place.  She was much loved and will be much missed.

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The “Burner County” resource page–resources to better understand why Hennepin County owns, and Covanta operates, the “HERC” garbage incinerator in Downtown Minneapolis, MN

Here are links to various documents, some found on the official Hennepin County website, some found elsewhere, and some obtained by means of MN Data Practices Act (“Freedom of Information”) requests.  This is a work in progress and we will be adding to it.  If you have documents to contribute to the effort, please send them to Alan Muller, alan@greendel.org

(There are also many important HERC documents on the website of Minneapolis Neighbors for Clean Air.)

My letter to the Hennepin County board about HERC concerns.  Includes links to background documents…. This letter contains various important questions we hope the County will provide meaningful answers to.

Contract for hiring the Washington, DC law firm Morris, Manning & Martin for $50,000 in connection with HERC contract extension. Obtained from Hennepin County via Data Practices Act.

Agreement between Hennepin County and HDR Engineering for services related to negotiating a 20-year extension of the “service agreement” with Covanta for operating the HERC garbage burner. Cost: $139,408.   Obtained from Hennepin County via Data Practices Act.

The following two documents need to be looked at together.  One is the “Board Action Request,” giving a “TOTAL NET AMENDED NOT TO EXCEED $407,163,484.00″  The second is the text of the Amendment with an attached list of actual projects.

http://www.alanmuller.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Board-Action-Request-Amd-5-to-HC-service-agreement-with-Covanta.pdf

http://www.alanmuller.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/amendmentfivetoserviceagreement.pdf

This is a page extracted from the 342 page Hennepin County CBTF [Capital Budget Task Force] Recommended: 2015-2019 Capital Improvement Program. The full document is likely available on the Hennepin County website here: http://www.hennepin.us/your-government/budget-finance/budgets, but I am not attempting to link to the specific document as things seem to keep moving around.

http://www.alanmuller.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/page-from-2015-capital-budget.pdf

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A detailed review of every contaminated site in Minnesota is urgently needed….

One of the best elected officials I know of is Cam Gordon of the Minneapolis MN City Council.  Gordon is a Green Party member, one of a relative handful of official Greens holding office in the United States.  I don’t agree with all Gordon’s positions, of course, but he shows an impressive ability to maintain independent and thoughtful positions while seeming to maintain working relationships with his colleagues. In March, 2014, Gordon posted this commentary (below) on one of the more consequential environmental scandals to surface recently in Minnesota. Continue Reading →

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